Monday, April 7, 2008

Prospect Profile: Earl Clark

Don Nelson loves this kind of player - versatile, athletic, size for his position, good ball-handling, improving mid-range game, and quick. Nelson is the master of mis-matches, and versatile, skilled players are the key to much of the success of Nellie-ball. There are a few 'hybrid' forwards in this draft (Anthony Randolph, Donte Greene, Joe Alexander - also French Prospect Batum) so let's see what Earl Clark brings to the table and what make him different than the others.

Earl Clark was ranked 4th best Shooting Guard by coming out of high school which means many believed he has good enough handles to grow into a point forward role. At 6'-9", that's always a good sign when determining if he would work in a Nellie style team. His range on his shot is improving and his mechanics suggest that he will continue to improve with more work. He can drive past bigger defenders because of his quickness and post up smaller ones because of his size. Like Greene, Alexander, and Randolph,he is a very good rebounder for his position. He doesn't have the 3 point range of Greene, but Clark's proven that he can hit the 3 on occasion (37% his freshman year). Clark, however, shoots at a much higher rate (47% fg) than all of them.

Based on his per-40 rebounding stats, Clark is the best out of the group at 11.4 reb/40 followed by Anthony Randolph at 10.4 reb/40. And like Randolph, he is a good shot blocker at 2.4 blk/40 as compared to Randolph's 2.8, Alexander's 1.9, and Greene's 1.8. These two skills, rebounding and shot blocking, are sorely needed on the Warriors.

One area Earl Clark needs to improve is his assist to turnover ratio. This weakness in his game was best exemplified in the Elite 8 game where he turned the ball over 7 times and only dealt out 1 assist. With more experience and hard work, hopefully, he will cut down on his turnovers and take better care of the ball. Sometimes he loses focus during the game and tries to make plays that are too risky. Joe Alexander has the best A/T ratio of the group.
Of the four hybrid players, Clark has the lowest scoring average per 40 min. adjusted at 15.6 as compared to Alexander at 21.4. Clark is also the weakest free throw shooter at 65.4% from the charity stripe.

There is a good chance Earl Clark will be available when the Warriors select either at 14 or 20 and it will come down to workouts leading up to the draft for Mullin to make his decision on whether to go with one of the hybrid forwards fit for Nellie-ball or with another position player that would fill a hole in a more conventional manner. Alexander is the most nba-ready of the 4, Clark is somewhere in the middle, and both Greene and Randolph have the most upside. If Clark can show that he can shoot it consistantly from mid-range and beyond, he might be the high on Mullin's draft charts.



Birthday: 1/17/1988
NBA Position: Small Forward
Class: Sophomore
Ht: 6-8
Wt: 220
College Team: Louisville
Hometown: Rahway, NJ
High School: Rahway

NBA Comparison: Danny Granger

Strengths: Clark is a rare breed of SF who makes those around him better with his great vision and unselfish passing ability ... Has prototypical small forward dimensions with long arms and a strong wiry frame, a very bouncy athlete ... He has shown a great deal of improvement from his freshman to sophomore seasons in both his body and game, a tribute to his strong work ethic and desire ... Hits the glass extremely hard, his long arms and explosive leaping ability make him a Windex man. His added strength has given him the ability to battle inside with bigger players ... Has very good touch and form on his shot. Similar to Danny Granger with his all around skills: passing, ball handling and shooting ... His versatility sets him apart from most small forwards as he has the ball handling and passing ability to create shots for himself and teammates ...

Weaknesses: Showed a solid touch in his freshman year hitting 37% from 3, but on a low volume of shots (10-27). He still must extend his range and develop better consistency on his shot. If he works hard at it, there's no reason why he can't be a quality 3 point shooter at the next level. But it will require a lot of work as the difference between the current college and pro 3 point line is huge ... His shot off the dribble is improved but still needs work. He's better at scoring off garbage baskets and on the break than pulling up off the dribble ... Not a real outgoing kid, one of those guys who leads by example. He has gained confidence and improved in this area but will need to become more vocal as his role with the team expands ... Must focus more attention to the defensive end of the floor. Should gather more steals considering his length and athleticism.

Aran Smith - 11/29/2007

from DraftExpress:

April 2, 2008

Fresh off his team’s run to the Elite Eight, which just happened to coincide with some of the best play of his NCAA career thus far, this is as good a time as any to take another look at Louisville’s Earl Clark. We’re talking about one of the more interesting long-term power forward prospects in college basketball, a player few can rival in terms of pure upside with his package of size, length, superb athleticism and versatile skills on both ends of the floor.

Clark is not the most productive player you’ll find these days, having averaged just 11 points per game as a sophomore. He started off the season in outstanding form, particularly over the first month or so, but then went into a prolonged slump until March. He proceeded to emerge at just the right time as far as Rick Pitino and Louisville were likely concerned, though, usually coming off the bench. From what we could see on tape, his best days are clearly ahead of him.
Versatility is the operative word when discussing Clark’s game. He looks comfortable facing the basket and operating on the perimeter, usually to put the ball on the floor going either left or right with a tremendous first step and very long strides. His ball-handling skills aren’t incredibly advanced—changing directions or performing advanced moves isn’t in his repertoire quite yet—but for a 6-9 player, it’s pretty impressive to see him blow by defenders and finish at the rim with his smooth body control. Clark can also do some work with his back to the basket, taking advantage of his excellent frame, length and quickness--even if his post-moves and footwork are very unrefined. He runs the floor exceptionally well in transition and is a tremendous finisher thanks to his superb physical tools, which comes in handy on set plays in the half-court as well, where he can come off a screen and cut to the basket. Clark’s jump-shot is still extremely streaky, but his high release point and decent (although inconsistent) form leaves room for optimism for the future.

Although he has plenty of potential offensively, Clark’s best attribute right now might be his rebounding ability. He has the tools (size, wingspan, hands, outstanding leaping ability) to make his presence felt, and seems to have developed more of the nastiness needed to go out and dominate his matchup on a regular basis, although still not on a consistent basis. Defensively, Clark is phenomenal when he puts his mind to it, thanks to his terrific lateral quickness, which allows him to switch out onto perimeter players on the pick and roll with ease, and makes him extremely disruptive when combined with his length. He looks pretty intense for the most part on this end of the floor, contesting shots, getting in the passing lanes, coming up with blocks, and doing a great job recovering back onto his man after getting beat. His frame might be a little on the slender side to deal with some of the more bruising back to the basket power forward types he’ll face, but his wide shoulders lead us to believe that he’ll be able to put on about as much weight as he needs in the NBA.

Clark is another prototypical example of the “hybrid forward” that every good NBA team seems to have these days. He can defend both forward positions as needed, and can serve as a tremendous mismatch facing the basket offensively and especially in transition. Polishing up his ball-handling skills and becoming a much better perimeter shooter will be important for him, but it seems to be the mental side of the game that he needs to improve on the most. Clark has a tendency to coast at times, looking fairly passive and losing his focus too often, which leads to unforced errors in the form of turnovers. His physical and mental toughness came into question at times early on in the season, which showed up on both ends of the floor, but hurt his team most defensively, when he just didn’t compete the way he should. This has become less and less of an issue as the year has moved on, but it’s still something for teams to keep in the back of their mind.

from ESPN:

Draft Projection: Mid to late first round

Notes: Clark has declared for the 2008 NBA Draft. He will likely hire an agent, ending his college eligibility.

Positives: Point forward with excellent size, athleticism and length. Perimeter oriented on offense. Good mid range jumper. Excellent passer. Good rebounder. Developing a low post game in the absence of Derrick Caracter. Has improved his ball handling. Good energy. Explosive.

Negatives: Needs to continue add strength. Needs to develop more range on his jump shot. Still hasn't developed a great feel for the game. Summary: An excellent NCAA tournament, where Clark was Louisville's best player, combined with a solid performance in the second half of the season have scouts once again buzzing about Clark. His combination of size, athleticism and versatility could make him a sleeper in the second half of the draft.

Louisville Basketball - Beast of the Big East

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